Privacy and Security by Design: Thoughts for Data Privacy Day

Tips & Advice

Data Privacy Day has particular relevance this year, as 2018 brought privacy into focus in ways other years have not. Ironically, in the same year that the European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect, the public also learned of glaring misuses of personal information and a continued stream of personal data breaches. Policymakers in the United States know they cannot ignore data privacy, and multiple efforts are underway: bills were introduced in Congress, draft legislation was floated, privacy principles were announced, and a National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Privacy Framework and a National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) effort to develop the administration’s approach to consumer privacy are in process.

These are all positive steps forward, as revelations about widespread misuse of personal data are causing people to mistrust technology—a situation that must be remedied.

Effective consumer privacy policies and regulations are critical to the continued growth of the U.S. economy, the internet, and the many innovative technologies that rely on consumers’ personal data. Companies need clear privacy and security expectations to not only comply with the diversity of existing laws, but also to grow businesses, improve efficiencies, remain competitive, and most importantly, to encourage consumers to trust organizations and their technology.

If an organization puts the customer at the core of everything it does, as we do at McAfee, then protecting customers’ data is an essential component of doing business. Robust privacy and security solutions are fundamental to McAfee’s strategic vision, products, services, and technology solutions. Likewise, our data protection and security solutions enable our enterprise and government customers to more efficiently and effectively comply with regulatory requirements.

Our approach derives from seeing privacy and security as two sides of the same coin. You can’t have privacy without security. While you can have security without privacy, we strongly believe the two should go hand in hand.

In comments we submitted to NIST on “Developing a Privacy Framework,” we made the case for Privacy and Security by Design. This approach requires companies to consider privacy and security on the drawing board and throughout the development process for products and services going to market. It also means protecting data through a technology design that considers privacy engineering principles. This proactive approach is the most effective way to enable data protection because the data protection strategies are integrated into the technology as the product or service is created. Privacy and Security by Design encourages accountability in the development of technologies, making certain that privacy and security are foundational components of the product and service development processes.

The concept of Privacy and Security by Design is aspirational but is absolutely the best way to achieve privacy and security without end users having to think much about them. We have some recommendations for organizations to consider in designing and enforcing privacy practices.

There are several layers that should be included in the creation of privacy and data security programs:

  • Internal policies should clearly articulate what is permissible and impermissible.
  • Specific departments should specify further granularity regarding policy requirements and best practices (e.g., HR, IT, legal, and marketing will have different requirements and restrictions for the collection, use, and protection of personal data).
  • Privacy (legal and non-legal) and security professionals in the organization must have detailed documentation and process tools that streamline the implementation of the risk-based framework.
  • Ongoing organizational training regarding the importance of protecting personal data and best practices is essential to the continued success of these programs.
  • The policy requirements should be tied to the organization’s code of conduct and enforced as required when polices are violated.

Finally, an organization must have easy-to-understand external privacy and data security policies to educate the user/consumer and to drive toward informed consent to collect and share data wherever possible. The aim must be to make security and privacy ubiquitous, simple, and understood by all.

As we acknowledge Data Privacy Day this year, we hope that privacy will not only be a talking point for policymakers but that it will also result in action. Constructing and agreeing upon U.S. privacy principles through legislation or a framework will be a complicated process. We better start now because we’re already behind many other countries around the globe.

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